March 2010


It’s time to ask my writer friends for some advice: I need to find a way to strike a balance between writing and life.

I’ve written about this on my other blog, but not here. It seems that when I’m focusing on my writing, everything else falls by the wayside β€” especially diet and exercise.

I wake up and want to get right down to business. I’d rather write than cook. Forget moving β€” I’d rather plant my butt in a chair all day, reading, writing, researching (and, yes) playing online.

So my question to you all: How do you balance your writing with everything else you want to/have to do?

In an effort to get over the disappointment of not finaling in the Golden Heart, I’ve been a busy, busy writer. πŸ˜€

No giving up for me, no sir.

I spent the weekend working on a synopsis for “Blind Date Bride” and reworking the ending on my losing GH entry. (I’m getting rid of their silly argument for a meatier one. There’s probably still not enough conflict, but I think it’s getting closer.)

I also discovered I may be eligible for PRO status with RWA. I’m going to look into that.

Nothing like a little disappointment β€” or a lot β€” to make you realize you need to work harder.

Today, I spent some time before work trying to come up with a synopsis for next year’s GH entry, which I want to enter in a contest with an April 10 deadline.

More later.

How long am I allowed to wallow in disappointment before it morphs into full-blown depression? Right now, I can’t seem to concentrate on anything more taxing than a box of Chicken McNuggets chased with a carton of Ben & Jerry’s.

I’ll give myself the rest of the night to sob into some comfort food, but tomorrow, it’s back to eating right and, more importantly, writing. I have a synopsis to come up with for “Blind Date Bride.”

My heart picked up speed when I checked the caller ID and saw a number I didn’t recognize. It raced a little faster when I flipped open the phone.

“Hello?”

No, it wasn’t someone from the Golden Heart committee calling to tell me I’d finaled. It was Sean, from GoDaddy.com wanting to know what my plans were for my domain name.

On the advice of some of the Ruby Slippered sisters, Golden Heart class of 2009, I registered my domain name β€” arlenehittle.com β€” and set up an introductory Web page.

I figured that way, if I was named a finalist, I’d be one step ahead. πŸ˜‰

Now it’s nearly dinnertime, and I’m pretty sure all the calls have gone out. That means it’s not happening for me this year.

As the Boyfriend pointed out, this is the first year I’ve entered … and although I’ve been writing since I was in second grade (seriously pursuing romantic fiction since 1999), I’ve only started putting myself out there in the past six or so months.

Still, I’m disappointed. I so wanted that phone to ring its “unidentified caller” tone β€” and hear someone other than Sean on the other end, congratulating me on being a GH finalist.

Last night, the Boyfriend said something to the effect of, “It’s great that you expect to win.”

Sure, logically, I knew it was a long shot. But I also worked hard on that entry, polishing it until (I thought) it was perfect.

And my gut tells me I should have won … After all, I’m a writer. I know how to get my point across and I can tell a great story.

GH finalists’ manuscripts score are the top 10 percent. That’s 90 percent … “A” territory. Every paper I wrote in high school and college earned me an “A.” Why should this be any different?

So yes, I’m disappointed … down in the dumps … wanting to be anywhere but where I am at the moment, warming my chair at work (until midnight tonight. Ugh.)

However, I want to give a hearty congrats to all those of you who did final this year. My own NARWA chapter has a finalist, in the Historical category. Congratulations, Alison Atwater!

And I’m giving all you 2010 finalists fair warning: Next year, I’m coming for you with not one but two GH entries. (I started edits on the first one today, when I was trying not to stare obsessively at the phone, willing it to ring.)

Watch out!

Normally, I sleep until at least 9 a.m. I have to, after working until midnight most nights and not getting to sleep until after 3 a.m.

This morning, however, I wanted to take advantage of “Free Pastry Day” at Starbucks. (It’s not often you can get something for nothing, after all.) So I set the alarm for 8 a.m., but beat it up by 15 minutes because the Boyfriend called on his way to work.

I was hangin’ at the local Starbucks by 8:30, low-fat banana chocolate-chip coffee cake in one hand, a Dark Cherry Mocha iced coffee in the other and the laptop balanced onΒ  my knees.

Writing was slow at first. It got much easier to type once the drink and cake were gone β€” and that didn’t take long. Next thing I knew, I was on a roll.

I sat there for more than FIVE hours β€” breaking at one point for a pit-stop and a large iced green tea. But I didn’t want to leave. I was on a roll … such a roll that in five hours, I wrote 4,511 words …

… AND completed my rough draft!

Yes, I know I’ll end up changing things. I’ll have to go back in and layer in more emotions, etc. I have a tendency to rush my endings β€” I don’t want my characters to suffer very much.

But it still feels fantastic to have a completed MS sitting beside me as I type this.

As it stands now, “Beauty and the Ballplayer” weighs in at 209 pages and a little more than 56,500 words. That leaves plenty of room for editing.

Of course, if I start chopping, it’ll be short. But that’s another problem. I’ll cross that bridge if (when) I come to it. I’ve already started to wonder if there’s too much backstory in my first few pages …

Ah, the things I wouldn’t have even thought about a year ago! Growth is a good thing, right? πŸ˜€

The old saw says there are three R’s β€” readin’ ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic β€” but I gave up on that last one years ago.

These days, I find myself struggling to strike the right balance between the other two.

I’ve heard many, many writers say that to write well, you must read β€” and read a lot. Different books, different kinds of books, things you like and things you know you should read just because they’re part of our collective consciousness.

My problem is, I’ve been spending a lot more time writing than reading. I have shelves full of books waiting to be read, yet I don’t read them. Instead, I’m writing, watching TV, blogging or surfing the Internet (sometimes all at once!).

I used to read all the time. I was one of those kids who went to the summer reading club at the library every week and checked out an entire box full of books. I read them all in a week and went back for more. Even when I first moved to Arizona, I read a lot. My roommate and I used to buy books and swap them all the time. I still have an entire bookcase full of her books that I haven’t read yet.

I lay the blame for my lax reading habits on the Boyfriend. Now that I have a man in my life, I don’t feel such a need to read countless romances.

I’m going to start making more of an effort. There are so many wonderful books out there, and I’m missing out by locking myself away in my own little world. (Besides, if I start to make a dent in my to-be-read shelves, I can cut back on clutter!) πŸ˜‰

What I’m reading now: “Blonde with a Wand” by Vicki Lewis Thompson. So far, it’s hilarious. The heroine, a witch, accidentally turns the hero, a player, into a cat β€” and then has trouble turning him back.

I just saw on amazon.com that she has another book in the series coming out soon (if it’s not out already). I think I’ll pick it up.

I’m going to make an effort to share what I’m reading here on my blog in the hopes that it’ll encourage me to read more. It won’t look very good if I don’t read more than a book Β a month.

On the writing front, my WIP is coming along quite nicely. It’s up to 52,300, leaving me with less than 7K to go.

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